For this week’s edition of Song Saturday, we’re featuring one of the band’s most unique singles to date and fourth and final single from Return of Saturn, “Bathwater”.
Revealed and teased as a song title for their upcoming album in October of 1999, “Bathwater” was written in only ten minutes and credits Gwen, Tony and Tom as its songwriters. The track opens with a slow New Orleans funeral style horn introduction alongside human beat-boxing by Adrian. According to Wikipedia, “Bathwater” is a ska punk song written in the key of E minor. It is composed in swing time with a medium swing and moves at a moderately fast tempo of 138 beats per minute. The song’s verses are carried by perfect fifth chords with a i-IV chord progression. Some use minor key piano chords on the off beat. Stefani’s vocal range spans over two octaves in the song, from G3 to B5″. “Bathwater” was produced by Glenn Ballard.
The lyrics tell a story of insecurity about an on-going relationship and overcoming them. The chorus’ lyrics “wash in your old bathwater” translates to accepting a partner’s mistakes and faults.
Released as the third and final single from Return of Saturn, “Bathwater” was released domestically on November 14, 2000 to mixed reviews from critics. The single peaked at #39 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs and also charted in both Germany and Australia. A CD maxi single was released in the latter for tour promotion with unreleased B-sides “Beauty Contest”, “Under Construction” and an acoustic version of “Ex-Girlfriend”, recorded live at the ARTISTdirect Fan Conference in Hollywood. The single was also re-released as the Invincible Overlord Remix (with an alternate video) with the remix to coincide with the single release of “It’s My Life” on April 20, 2004. The remix version peaked at #17 on the UK singles chart.
No Doubt promoted and performed “Bathwater” all through the fall of 2000 including notable appearances on ESPN’s X Games, Mad TV, Farmclub and My VH1 Awards. The single was performed nightly on the Return of Saturn tour and continues to a live staple for the band.